The play based on the events of the 2008 fatal stabbing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero by had its Patchogue premiere Tuesday night a.
Margarita Espada, the show’s creator and executive-artistic director of the Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja, Inc. theatre group, said that the play is an experimental work meant to open a dialogue about the racial tensions in Long Island communities.
“What Killed Marcelo Lucero?” is set with two backdrops of neighboring houses, depicting the backyards of two families, one American, the other Latino. The tension starts with the Americans complaining about their loud neighbors, citing racial stereotypes and using slurs. With each subsequent scene, conflict escalates and violence ensues.
While there are reenactments of several violent hate crimes, the scene depcting Lucero’s murder is delivered via dialogue just before the play’s climax. The performance ends in a clash of protesters from both sides, at which point Espada re-enters to break up the conflict and start the discussion portion of the play.
Espada introduced the panel that included Luis Valenzuela of the Long Island Immigration Alliance, Michele Lynch, Political Director of 1199 Service Employees International Union and Maryann Slutsky of the Long Island Wins campaign. The audience was encouraged to ask questions of the panelists and share their views on the issues of immigration, racial bias and hate crimes.
Robert Conroy, father of Jeffrey Conroy who was convicted of manslaughter for Lucero’s murder and , was in the audience and spoke during the forum. He apologized for his son and complimented the performance. Conroy said that he felt his son’s depiction in the media was unfair, specifically in regard to him being a “ringleader.”
Espada responded sympathetically saying that Conroy’s son was a victim of a political statement.
“It is a social and political issue, not a personal one,” Espada said.
An audience member after the show took an opposing view to Conroy's statement.
""The important thing to remember here is that Marcelo Lucero is the victim, not Jeff Conroy," said the audience member.
Dr. Olga Rios-Soria of St. Joseph’s Modern Languages Department said that the most important aspect of the play was to ensure that history did not repeat itself.
“It promotes community dialogue and brings a deeper understanding of racial tensions and alleviates them,” Soria said.
Updated 5/2, 3:21 p.m.